Ashley Park School closure was a predetermined decision

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The Chinook School Division recently announced the closure of Ashley Park School. I feel the Board and management have misled the public into thinking that the Core schools will be half empty once Ecole Centennial School is opened this fall.

Back in June 2011 they had consultations primarily on where the South Side students would be educated. In their preparation work they indicated that the three Core Schools (O.M. Irwin, Central and Ashley Park) had a total capacity of 875 students. This past fall they had a survey available for the public to comment on. As part of the survey, they provided some background information and said that the capacity of those three schools is 1,200 students. The projected enrolment next year in the Core, once Centennial is opened, is about 685 students.

In their background package they stated that, "it obviously costs less to operate two schools than three". They wanted to make it look like the three schools would be only about half full instead of almost 80 per cent full. By 2011 standards, Ashley Park and Central schools are currently overcrowded, and Irwin is under capacity.

There were two board members who voted against the closures. I believe that these two members sat and listened to the concerns that the parents and community brought forth. The others merely went along with the Director of Education's plan. The Board lacked the foresight to see that the attendance at Central and Irwin will be impacted by the opening of Centennial and to plan accordingly.

We went to one of the meetings in the fall and when we asked why this wasn't considered in 2011, the board chair replied by saying that they are just taking one step at a time. The steps they have gone through are merely a formality because the decision was made a long time ago.

The survey this past fall was slanted to garner the public's support for closing another school. The board said they wanted input from the community, yet when I wrote a letter to the board I didn't get a response.

The City is growing and the citizens are begin asked to give up two public and two separate schools for the new joint use school. Let's hope it doesn't take another 40 years for the next new school to be built, because soon we will have more buildings that used to be elementary schools than we have left still being used to educate our children.

Myron Knelsen - Swift Current

Organizations: Ashley Park School, Ecole Centennial School, Chinook School Division

Geographic location: Swift Current, Ashley Park School

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